Chapter One of "I Knew Him"
It's published by the wonderful LETHE PRESS (lethepressbooks.com) and the gorgeous cover is by Ben Baldwin, a man of talent. Check out his website. www.benbaldwin.co.uk
It's a gay historical (big surprise) and is set in the 1920's that rather over-nostalgic life-as-it-could-have-been idyllic idyll between the wars. The sun never set and the champagne never stopped.
Harry is at university with his friend, beautiful to his eyes and much beloved. Harry knows life's limitations regarding his sexuality but he's not really afraid of the future in that way. Mainly because he's sure the future will go exactly how he wants it.
Here's the first chapter - enjoy!
He walked into my study-room, and threw himself on the bed, as if he owned it. It was hard not to stare at him, so I didn't even try not to. His shirt had pulled itself loose from his flannels, displaying a delicious portion of his midriff, and the first few dark blond hairs which led downwards to some of his nicer points.
"It's a frightful bore," he said. "But I suppose there's no way around it. You'll come, though?"
He had this habit, endearing and irritating by turns, of talking to me as if we'd been having a conversation, and I'd simply not been listening for half of it. How dare I be in a different room while he was having his portion of the discussion?
I put my pen down with deliberate effect as if to emphasise that I had actually been working, rare as that was. "If I had any idea of what you were talking about, I could say one way or the other."
"The summer vac. of course. I've been summonsed home. It's loathsome. Mother knows all too well that I wanted to take you to Paris. What does Somerset have to interest us, when there are the hidden decadencies of Paris?" He stretched out, like a cat, his arms well over his head, and more of his torso came into view. It was too much for one with as little willpower as I possess, and I threw my pen down on the table, and joined him, kneeling by the side of the bed and latching my mouth onto his skin. "Mmmmm," he said, appreciatively. "That door's not locked, you know."
My tongue took a break from etching circles on his stomach. "The only chaps likely to barge in without knocking are Richardson and Gilbert. I can't see either of those two dropping dead from shock discovering a couple of queers in my study." I snorted with laughter at my own puerile wit, my mouth reverberating on his skin, making him laugh too. It was good to hear him laugh, it was a rare enough sound and one I never tired of hearing. "And I'm not entirely sure that decadencies is even a word."
"Of course it is. It must be. Look it up."
"I'm busy. You look it up."
He leaned over and pulled my dictionary from the windowsill. There was silence for a minute or two, while pages rustled and I took outrageous—but not entirely indecent—advantage of his inattention. If I were a man more given to empathy, I might complain that he found it so easy to thumb through my copy of The Oxford Concise while I was taking such liberties with his person. But then, I was doing it mostly for my own gratification.
"If you do much more of that," he said, his voice dusky with want, proving me wrong as usual, "then I’m not going to notice if the door does open, nor am I likely to care." He pushed himself up along the bed and propped himself up against the bedstead, removing the temptation of his skin, to my very great annoyance.
I reapplied my arse to my study chair, and turned to look at him. "Why does your mother want you at home? I thought she couldn't be happier when you wrote and told her you were buggering off—literally—until the autumn."
He frowned, delicate lines forming between his dark, straight brows, and he swung his legs back over the edge of the bed. His flannels were delightfully creased, and it couldn't have been just from our brief tumble. Somehow he never managed to stay crisp for more than a few minutes, and had been the despair of our Head of House from his first day at our Prep school. "She doesn't say. Just how 'jolly' it would be if we all spent part of the holidays together. Her letter made me sound as if I were five. Really." He came and knelt by my chair and tangled his fingers in mine. "You'll come, though? I promise it won't be for the whole vac. I'll make sure we get time off for good behaviour."
I snorted. "Good behaviour? You? Your family must have an elevated impression of you, if they think you are well behaved."
"Oh, they do. Mostly." He brought my hand to his lips, kissing each fingertip, his eyes closed as he seemed to be memorising each digit as he went. "A perfect little prince, that's me."
"You make me sick. And I'm supposed to play the part of your willing courtier, am I? God, what is there even to do in Somerset? Even when August comes you'll not get me holding a gun, and you are nowhere near the sea. It'll be deadly."
"Oh, there are things," he said, vaguely. Then after a silence-filled but passionate minute he said, in a husky tone. "What if I asked Gilbert and Richardson? If there's all four of us, it won't be so bad. If Gilbert takes his car at least we won't be trapped in the slough of despond. Say yes, Harry. Please, say yes. I can't bear the thought of being without you when we had so much planned together. Your mother is going to her family, isn't she? You won't be happy going to Scotland and having nothing but gillies' knees to ogle."
"Perhaps I have more than gillies’ knees, and more than ogling," I said as acerbically as I could, but he was right, entirely right, damn him. Neither of us had planned to be with our families this summer.
I sighed in mock annoyance, although I knew that he knew I'd already decided to give in, and it didn't need me to vocalise it, for his face broke into a sunny smile. "I'll write and tell her. If she wants me, she takes you."
"And Richardson and Gilbert. That's a bitter pill, two bitter pills, for any mother to swallow."
"Ouch." He pushed himself to his feet, kissed me briefly. "You are quite the bitch, Harry, when you want to be."
"And you love it."
He didn't answer that. He never did. I think he got a kick out of it, leaving me eternally uncertain.
Out in ebook now and in paperback soon. Please let me know if you enjoy it.